Rising to the Challenge

The contract awarded to Howard Porter will see the production of 320 trailers within 38 weeks – a challenge that has been welcomed by the Perth based company. These trailers are part of the Chevron operated multi-billion dollar Gorgon Project – a joint venture between the Australian subsidiaries of Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell to develop the Greater Gorgon gas fields, located 130 km to 200 km off the north-west coast of Western Australia. The Greater Gorgon gas fields contain resources of approximately 40 trillion cubic feet of gas and are Australia’s largest known gas resource.

Howard Porter has worked to demonstrate its own capabilities, as well as the benefits of manufacturing the trailers within Western Australia.

“This win represents a huge success for Howard Porter and for WA,” says Howard Porter’s sales manager, Jason Bell. “We are delighted to have this opportunity to be involved in such an important and ground-breaking project.”

The contract will include 240 flat tops, 34 drop decks, 20 extendables, 20 dollies and six 100 tonne floats. A large portion of these trailers are already complete and have begun work on the project. Already, these trailers are receiving positive feedback.
The contract began in June last year, however the initial two months were spent engaging in engineering and preparation, with the first trailer completed in August. All 320 of the trailers are due for completion by 15 March, but so far Howard Porter is tracking ahead of schedule with two flat tops being completed everyday and two drop decks every week.
As the trailers need to be transported across the ocean to reach their destination at Barrow Island, a special paint capable of withstanding the salt water also needed to be used. Further modification was needed to ensure that the trailers were capable of being carted on an ocean transporter.

Jason says that the company was looking forward to proving that Chevron made the right choice by awarding this project to a Western Australian manufacturer.
“The challenge has been enormous, not only to engineer and build 320 units in 38 weeks but of course we have still had our regular clients to care for as well. We are very proud of the fact that during this contract we have managed to continue to grow the number of orders being accepted, and our trailer delivery times are still amongst the best in the industry across all segments of the business,” adds Jason.

In order to accommodate the increased workload brought on by the contract, Howard Porter needed to update its production line and adopt new processes that have enabled the manufacturer to turn the trailers around very quickly.
“One of the gains for us is that we have had to rejuvenate our business in several areas which has led to some serious gains in efficiency and that will continue to flow through to the rest of our customer base well into the future,” says Jason.

Howard Porter had also completed a large expansion including the purchase of mass production machinery just prior to winning the contract. In addition, this project has created more local jobs, with 60 extra staff employed by Howard Porter in order to fulfil the project.

Coming out of a difficult 2009 that was largely affected by the global downturn, equipment suppliers have also felt a positive impact as a result of the project. Supplying 900 axles, 300 suspensions and a range of ancillary products for use on the 320 trailers, Fuwa K-Hitch received its biggest single order from a customer.

As for Howard Porter, Jason says that the future is looking very bright. “The Western Australian market is strengthening all the time with another mining boom well and truly underway. There is definitely a great deal of demand for these sorts of trailers. We have a very strong and loyal client base and we hope to continue working with them as they continue to grow.”

Operations in Queensland are also being strengthened with Townsville Trailer Sales being recently appointed as a dealer of Howard Porter’s range of products. Further work is currently being conducted to expand the dealer network across Australia.

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